Microvolunteering and online volunteering may not be the first things that spring to mind for people looking at volunteering opportunities. Traditional volunteering roles usually involve spending time on site with an organisation working with other staff, volunteers or service users, or maybe volunteering at an event.
Microvolunteering, on the other hand, seeks to use small chunks of people’s time in a way that still makes a difference to the organisations they want to help. It works on the premise that, although not everyone can take regular chunks of time to go somewhere to volunteer, everyone can find five or ten minutes – whilst waiting for the kettle to boil, for example, or whilst using public transport. Much of the volunteering is available online, and one site even awards a ‘pyjama rating’ to its tasks. Now you don’t even have to get out of bed to volunteer!
Some build on this idea and might take a bit more time, but in general, you can still participate online, as a one off event, and with no further commitment, so it’s up to you how much or little time you spend.
A Google search reveals plenty of opportunities, and with a bit of filtering, it is easy to find options that match your skills and interests. We’ve listed some of the sites we particularly liked below, but let us know if you find others. Some of the sites just act as lists of opportunities, or provide links to external sites; as with everything on line, check that you’re happy an organisation is genuine, and don’t give any details that you’re not comfortable with. However, some sites let you contribute without the need to register at all.
http://helpfromhome.org/ - change the world in just your pyjamas! This is a well-organised site that categorises opportunities by the amount of time they take, from 1 minute to 30 minutes or multiple 30 minute sessions. You can also search by subject. Some opportunities only apply outside the UK. Shorter activities include signing petitions, clicking voting buttons to help raise funds or installing and using apps to help further research. We particularly like Penguinwatch, where volunteers count penguins on photos from Antarctic research stations. You don’t have to register for that one, you can just click and go, and it has a 100% pyjama rating! Longer activities include transcribing letters or books for archives and digitisation projects, and a project aiming to record all the war memorials in the UK.
https://www.zooniverse.org/projects - the BBC promotes this as a Citizen Science site, although some of the topics might be viewed as more arts than science, for example, helping transcribe 16th century recipes and letters. Other options include helping computers recognise animals’ faces and identifying meteors in radio data. There is a short instruction piece at the start of each option and help buttons if you need information whilst carrying out the tasks. Zooniverse describes itself as ‘the world’s largest and most popular platform for people-powered research,’ and projects have used volunteers’ input to produce a number of detailed research reports. You need to create a Zooniverse account to take part.
http://skillsforchange.com/ - This site allows not-for-profit organisations from around the world to post ‘challenges’ they need help with. They tend to take a bit more time than some of the options listed above, but can still be done as short, one-off pieces of online volunteering. Examples include commenting on publicity or strategy documents, designing artwork for marketing and publicity and support with social media tasks. You can search by organisation, by theme or by skill required, and register to receive email updates with challenges that match your skills.
http://www.coyotecommunications.com/stuff/findvv.shtml Coyote communications: Put together by a consultant to provide answers to the frequently asked questions she was dealing with around volunteering. The site looks rather old fashioned, but it has lots of links to organisations and opportunities, and the information is up to date.
Microvolunteering Day 15th April http://www.microvolunteeringday.com/volunteers.html
Thank you for reading, Karen Dyson – Organisational Development Worker, Macc